Commissioned by the nonprofit The Future of Life Institute, the seven-minute video – titled “Slaughterbots” (see below) – was launched at an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The video – which portrays a dystopian future in which lethal autonomous weapons have become cheap and ubiquitous – calls for a ban on the development of lethal autonomous weapons.
In the video, tiny AI-powered armed drones produced for “good” fall into the wrong hands, which then deploy the smart weapons – equipped with facial recognition and on-board explosives – against political and civilian targets. Clearly sensationalistic, the video depicts mass casualties from drone swarms, as well as targeted killings of specific individuals.
In recent years several high-profile scientists and technologists have expressed concerns over AI and the potential catastrophic consequences of creating something that cannot be controlled. However, they say, their goal is not to stifle innovation.
“The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is not trying to stifle innovation in artificial intelligence and robotics and it does not wish to ban autonomous systems in the civilian or military world,” says Noel Sharkey of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. “Rather we see an urgent need to prevent automation of the critical functions for selecting targets and applying violent force without human deliberation and to ensure meaningful human control for every attack.”
The film is a collaboration between AI researcher Stuart Russell, a University of California-Berkeley professor, and the Future of Life Institute. The Future of Life Institute includes cosmologist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk on its board of advisors.